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Classical Literary Criticism: Plato: Ion; Republic 2-3, 1; Aristotle: Poetics; Horace: The Art of Poetry; Longinus: On the Sublime (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 17 Apr 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 2Rev Ed edition (17 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140446516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140446517
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Back Cover

This new edition of Classical Literary Criticism contains the landmarks of ancient literary criticism in accessible and lucid translations.

In her Introduction Penelope Murray shows how many of the most fruitful approaches to understanding literature in the Western tradition derive from these canonical texts. Plato is often regarded as the most poetic of the great philosophers, but he mistrusted the god-like power of poets to work on our feelings and famously banished them from his ideal Republic. Aristotle responded by defending the value of art in his Poetics. His analysis of tragedy, with its key concepts of mimesis, catharsis and hamartia, has influenced generations of critics from the Renaissance onwards. Horace's The Art of Poetry is a vivid practitioner's guide that promotes a style of poetic craftsmanship rooted in wisdom, ethical insight and decorum, while Longinus' remarkable On the Sublime explores the nature of inspiration in poetry and prose.

This edition also features a new bibliography and chronology as well as comprehensive notes to each of the texts.

About the Author

Plato (c.427-347BC) - philosopher whose thinking has shaped Western intellectual tradition. Aristotle (384-322BC) - influential and prolific author of the Ethics and the Politics. Horace (c.65-8BC) - a Latin lyric poet and satirist. Longinus - an unknown Greek author writing mid 1AD
T. S. Dorsch was Professor of English at the University of Durham. He died in 1991.
Penelope Murray is Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Warwick.


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Format: Paperback
'Classical Literary Criticism' goes as far back as the ancient Greeks to show us the 1st preserved texts dealing with the structure, use, value, storyline, ... of plays/literature. The book gives you a correct (translated obviously) copie of the ancient texts and adds some interesting notes and background to each. 'CLC' is easy to use and contains all necessary information to understand and comment on the earliest -as far as we know- theories of literary criticism.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an invaluable book to anyone who wants to write... It really pinpoint the conventions of literature right back to antiquity and is still very relevant to anyone who is serious about writing anything, a novel, rap, poetry, articles and the like haha!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid, expanded edition (print AND Kindle) 18 Oct. 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
GENERAL REMARKS. My first encounter with this book was in an earlier edition that I came across in a used book stall in the cafeteria lobby at the university of Tübingen back in the 1990s. Then the book merely contained Aristotle and Horace on poetry and Longinus on the sublime. This new, expanded editing enlarges the page size; adds numerous selections from Plato (namely, the _Ion_ and the _Republic_); and provides a much more extensive introduction (about 60 pages long, three times longer than the old introduction). The introduction is quite helpful, such as in its discussion of the Greek terms 'hamartia' (xxxv), 'catharsis' (xxii-xxiii), and 'mimesis' (passim).
KINDLE. The Kindle edition (which I purchased in addition to my print edition in order to find passages more quickly with the search function) keeps all the notes and provides an easily navigable, linked table of contents. What the Kindle edition does NOT provide is pagination within the page (which would be extremely simple to provide -- all it would require is the addition of page numbers in brackets embedded within the text -- "We have the technology"), though, to be fair, this Kindle edition does include an approximation of the original pagination displayed with the location numbers. It is certainly strange not to have exact pagination for a book such as this, which is most likely to be used by scholars, to lack pagination in its Kindle edition.
USE for CLASSES. Speaking of scholarship, I have been using the book in aesthetics classes and have found that, though it might work well for a class on literary theory, for an aesthetics course or any course focusing on beauty it would need the addition of more passages from Plato's dialogs (namely passages dealing specifically with beauty) and at least some selections from Plotinus as well, since Plotinus's comparatively more earthly interpretation of Plato has had such an influence on subsequent thinkers (from the Third Earl of Shaftesbury to Roger Scruton).
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid introduction 15 Aug. 2011
By J. Marlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Among other things, I teach literary theory and literature and philosophy, and I use this text regularly with my students.

It affords solid translations of key texts that introduce students to a number of key considerations in understanding poetry: the role of inspiration and the problem of censorship (Plato); the importance of craft, the relationship between literature and philosophy, and the psychological power of tragedy (Aristotle); the need for decorum and the educative function of poetry (Horace); and the function of style (Longinus). This makes it a useful book whether using it to study the beginnings of literary theory or to ponder larger questions about poetry and poetics. I return to it often.

Not bad for this reasonably priced volume.
4.0 out of 5 stars Had to purchase this book for a class, and ... 1 Sept. 2015
By Desiree Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Had to purchase this book for a class, and you can't go wrong buying the kindle version for a fraction of the price. Thank god for technology.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is excellent 23 Nov. 2012
By Jaylia123 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This classical literary criticism was for a college course in communication. It is an excellent book for anyone interested in ancient literature.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let us sing...and praise...and rhapsodize... 15 Jun. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
To the Ancients (mostly Greeks and Romans), the main
literature to be talked of was Poetry, but Poetry was
not merely what we tend to think of it as being. For
the Ancients, Poetry was primarily Drama (both Tragedy
and Comedy), because their dramas were written in
poetry, Epic poetry, Lyric poetry (shorter song poems),
Love Poetry, Choral songs, and Sacred Poetry
(Odes and Hymns).
The sources of inspiration for all of this creativity,
in their belief, was the god Apollo (Master of the Lyre,
a type of arm-balanced harp to be plucked with the
fingers of the non-holding hand)and the 9 female
divinities who served under his tutelage and protection,
the Muses. Most of the Muses came to be the specific
inspirers of some specific type of poetry: Euterpe
(Lyric poetry); Thalia (Comic drama poetry and idyll
poetry about shepherds and flocks and countryfied
lovers); Melpomene (Tragic poetry); Terpsichore
(Choral song and dance); Erato (Love poetry);
Polyhymnia (Sacred Poetry); and Calliope (Epic poetry).
The major home where the Muses were believed to reside
was Mt. Helicon in Greece, but occasionally they were
also thought to live on Mt. Parnassos (also in ancient
Greece). The Romans especially liked to think of the
Muses as residing on Mt. Parnassos.
This volume is a collection of what is considered to
be the best writing about "literary criticism" -- or
rather, poetic criticism from the ancient Greek and
Roman world. The pieces by these ancient authors
are presented in the chronological order of when the
author lived and wrote -- thus, the line of order
for the pieces is Plato (with the dialogue *Ion*,
and sections from the work *Republic* which deal
with poetry and poets, what part the arts should
play in the education of the citizen of the republic,
and the possible effects of poetry on the ethics,
morality, and lifestyles of the citizens of the republic);
Aristotle (with his work, *Poetics*, mostly dealing
with tragic-drama poetry, its purpose, its effects--
and epic poetry, and a comparison of tragedy and
epic); the Roman poet Horace (his verse[!!!] epistle
discussing poetry-*On Poetry*), and Longinus with his
treatise *On the Sublime*, which discusses works both in
poetry and prose --and style: the manner in which
the work is presented, its choice of poetic or prose
type, its use of language, its use of artistic effects
[and affects]--Longinus gives us the beginning of
real, total literary criticism of a work, analyzing
not only the "parts", but the effect of the whole
as a work of art.
This is certainly going much farther and deeper
than merely today's "instant" criticism of two
thumbs up or two thumbs down...or do I like it, or
don't I like it. This is bringing to bear intelligent,
insightful, self-examining criteria as well as turning
the critical examination upon the art work as well.
Its is a combination of philosophical examination of
aesthetics (what is beautiful? why is it beautiful?
what does it have or do that makes it beautiful? how
does it produce its effect of beauty upon the
beholder?) -- as well as psychological examination
of the beholder and what is going on inside him or her
as a result of beholding, perceiving, "participating"
in interaction with the work of art. Then, we
really get into some delicious waters--for we are
not mere "observers", but also are hooked-in participants
with the art work and its magic effects (our responses
to the work are a part of the artistic creation, too!).
In conclusion, Horace says many wondrous things
in his work, I will quote only this: "Poets aim either
to benefit [enlighten, bring about insight, understanding,
compassion], or to please [delight with effects of
engaging, subtle ideas, words, sounds, images]. ***
The man [or woman] who has managed to blend usefulness
[not practical utility, but intellectual and spiritual
deepening and eye-opening understanding] with pleasure
wins everyone's approbation [applause, cheers, seat
thumpings, sighs of admiration...], for he delights
his reader [listener]as he instructs him."
-- Horace, *On Poetry.*
* * * * * * * * *
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